Sunday, March 25, 2018


The early years, from Plomb to Proto

Proto tools began somewhat unofficially back in 1907 when a blacksmith in Los Angeles teamed up with a traveling salesman who began selling the striking tools he forged by hand.

The robust yet austere tools bore the mark of Plomb, the name of the talented blacksmith Alphonse Marie Plomb, a native of France who had immigrated to the US in 1892. Mr. Plomb had recently come to Los Angeles after trying his hand at tool making in Chicago for a number of years.

The salesman, Charles Harvey Williams, a native of New York was a well experianced agent, having honed his skills as a traveling salesman selling shoes across the midwest back at the turn of the century.

By 1910 the duo added toolmaker Jacob Weninger, a native of Hungary who had arrived in New York from Hungary just a few years earlier, to not only help with the growing demand but also help expand their product line.

Some majors changes came to this organization around 1916 when Mr. Plomb left to go into business for himself and since the operation had been utilizing Mr. Plombs property at Maie ave, it was relocated to 1409 Georgia ave there in Los Angeles. Soon a William Ziegler Jr was brought in as shop manager, also Mr. Williams brought in silent partner John Louis Pendelton, a man well experienced in business management.

In the beginning their product line was limited mainly to punches and chisels, but according to a 1917 advertisement which read "Hand Forged Tools for Plumbers, Tinners, Bricklayers, ect. Machinists hand tools a specialty.", obviously their line had expanded considerably.

In 1918 the shop was again relocated to 1119 Santa Fe Ave in Los Angeles, also Mr. Weninger was promoted to foreman to an ever growing production staff.

In 1920 the company made its first acquisition when MJ Carls Plastering sold his cement tool business to Plomb Tool with the agreement that they continue to manufacture them using the Carls trademark. Around this same time they relocated yet again to a larger facility just a short distance away at 2209 Santa Fe Ave, and this location became the home to Plomb Tools for decades to come.

*** More to Come ***

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Texas Manufacturing Rises

Even though this data is somewhat dated, I believe it is still noteworthy....the latest US economic census (2012) shows an improvement in manufacturing in Texas in 2012 over 2011. There was a 2.5% increase in the number of Texas manufacturing establishments, a 4.82% increase in the number of workers employed in manufacturing, a 6.65% increase in total manufacturing payroll earned and a 1.7% increase in worker yearly average wages earned.

The top 5 manufacturing sectors that showed the greatest increase in employees are machinery manufacturing at 13.8%, fabricated metal products at 9.6%, plastic and rubber products at 9.4%, transportation equipment manufacturing at 8.4% and textile products at 8.3%.

While the numbers are not extraordinary, they do buck the trend of overall manufacturing decline here in the US.

For a small but growing list of Texas businesses that produce goods there visit

Friday, September 6, 2013

Aug '13 Unemployed Statistics vs Healthcare Mandate

A few numbers just released from the BLS about the unemployed, this not the official unemployment rate but a breakdown of how the unemployed are counted by type of positions they held, so the numbers are not going to coincide exactly with the U4 statistics.

The total of all the unemployed in Aug '13 was 5,856,000 compared to 5,934,000 in July '13, which makes it 78,000 less unemployed workers in Aug compared to July. We can't really say that there were 78,000 more jobs because the 'unemployed' are a relative number depending on how you count the unemployed. This release doesn't state exactly how they do count the unemployed, but since they are working with the recently layed-off, I'm pretty confident that the long-tern unemployed are not counted in this release, I will be sticking with working with the unemployed numbers here, not employed.

Nevertheless there were about a 1.3% *less unemployed* from July to Aug of this year, compared to Aug '12 there were 964,000 less unemployed persons or about a 14.1% change.

To further break it down by temporary vs permanent positions...Aug '13 had 986,000 temporary unemployed compared to 1,337,000 in July '13 making it 351,000 less temporary unemployed persons, compared to 1,147,000 in Aug '12 for a change of 161,000 less.

As for permanent positions in Aug '13 there were 3,707,000 unemployed full time positions compared to July '13's 3,548,000 making it a gain of 159,000 full time unemployed persons. Aug '12 had 4,444,000 unemployed make a difference of 737,000 less full-time unemployed person compared to Aug '13.

Its easy to see that there has been a shift from less full time to more temporary *employed* positions in just the last month or so, most likely in preparations for the upcoming healthcare mandate...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bicycle Manufacturing - A bright spot of American manufacturing in an otherwise dim outlook.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently forecast that the manufacturing sector of the US economy is going to shed even more jobs into the foreseeable future, which for them is to the year 2020. While the manufacturing losses aren't expected to be big, on the order of several thousand jobs, compared to the millions of the last two decades. Nonetheless, the 'loss of growth' in this important sector is going to hamper the US's long term recovery.

One bright, albeit small spot in this area is bicycle manufacturing. According to the US Economic Census of 2002 there were only 36 American bicycle & bicycle part manufacturers here in the US, employing a little over 3,000 people who had added 465 million dollars the economy.

By 2007 the number of bicycle companies in the US had swelled to over 300, with the total employed at nearly 9,500 who had produced right at 1 billion dollars in goods. The data shows a trend towards more numerous but smaller companies, mostly individuals. The 2012 Economic Census data is not due to be released until 2014 and it will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

Bicycle 'manufacturing' did not show up in the BLS's forecast of the 2010-2020 top 30 occupations with the fastest job growth. Actually no manufacturing occupations did, but 'bicycle repairers' did, with a projected growth of 37% or about 3700 jobs.

For the record a BLS 'repairer' is described as one who 'installs, maintains, or repairs', so it's reasonable to assume that many, if not most of the BLS bicycle repairers are also included in the US Economic Census manufacturers data.

Apart from starting this blog, I also maintain a website dedicated strictly to American made products, and I am compiling a list of American bicycle companies with over 102 listed to date.